Before He was King

The debate between Elvis fans and Beatles fans over which rock god/gods were more important or influential has been waging for half a century. “Paul is still making music!” “Elvis died a has-been on a toilet!” “Elvis shook the establishment!” “Elvis was the hillbilly cat, and the Beatles were a bunch of Brits! Failing to like Elvis is UN-AMERICAN!” And on and on and on. Luckily for each camp, South Florida has been the destination for exhibits celebrating both within the past year. Back in October, Old School Square Cultural Center presented “Give Peace a Chance: John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Bed-In for Peace.” And now, Boca Raton Museum of Art (501 Plaza Real, Boca Raton) welcomes “Elvis at 21.” The exhibit includes 40 large-format photographs by Alfred Wertheimer, who was hired to shoot the star before he became the rock ’n’ roll king. The photographs capture an intimacy with the artist in small-town spots across America. The exhibit is thus an insightful and candid glimpse into his life provided by access that would later become nonexistent after he catapulted to international fame within the same year. For instance, one photo shows Elvis sitting at a lunch counter… alone… undisturbed by paparazzi, groupies, impersonators, and the other obsessive types who are attached to his legacy.

The exhibit runs through June 13. Admission costs $14. Call 561-392-2500, or visit
Tuesdays-Fridays, 10 a.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, noon. Starts: April 21. Continues through June 13, 2010

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